Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 33
Charges against 'Vandenberg 15' dropped
On Oct. 17, the United States government dismissed all charges against the 15 men and women arrested while protesting the launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in February. The “Vandenberg 15”—as they’ve been nicknamed by the press—were accused of trespassing at Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly before the early morning launch. None of the formerly accused now faces fines or jail time in relation to the incident.
Many of the Vandenberg 15 claimed they were well within their rights in attempting to deliver a letter to the base commander prior to the launch. Some members of the Vandenberg 15 include Daniel Ellsberg, a U.S. nuclear weapons strategist who released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971; Cindy Sheehan, a founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, whose son Casey was killed in 2004 in Iraq; Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan monk and co-founder of the Nevada Desert Experience; and David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization that works to eradicate nuclear weapons worldwide.
“Nuclear weapons are largely invisible, but they are insanely destructive weapons that put the future of all complex life, including the human species, at risk,” David Krieger said in response to the legal victory. “The Vandenberg 15 protested in order to put nuclear weapons and their delivery systems on trial. It is up to the American people to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy so that we will show leadership in ridding the world of these terrible weapons.”
According to information from the Vandenberg 15, the United States keeps 450 Minuteman III missiles on high alert in silos in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
“The 30th Space Wing mission is to launch rockets into polar orbit while protecting the Department of Defense’s most valuable asset—the people who make the mission possible,” Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander, said in an e-mail to the Sun. “Safety is our most paramount concern, and Vandenberg remains committed to ensuring personnel are protected so that we can continue achieving 100 percent mission success.”
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